I consider for a moment what he's said and have an image of people pressing the “delete” button on themselves. I ask him if this is an appropriate analogy.
“Yes,” he says. “Pressing the delete button is a good way of putting it. A lot of times people press the delete button on their own life and certainly on their relationships. That has really been brought on by the relentless acceleration and intensity and speed and the real competitiveness of contemporary culture.” He pauses, then adds, “Something human has been lost in the coming-to-be of an advanced technology.”
“What is that?” I ask.
“For one, a sense of time. An epochal sense of time as duration. Reflection of one's existence. An ability to really exist and have complex human relationships with others. We have already pressed the delete button on a number of things that are really indispensable to building up human culture....”
“It can become very impersonal,” he continues, “when you're pushed to deal with a number of individuals that are showing up in your queue. There's pressure to go through it quickly. And the faster you go, the more impersonal it becomes. When you're just dealing with numbers, it's very easy to forget that you're dealing with people. You're dealing with lives; you're dealing with feelings, with goals, desires. Many of the people are arriving at the welfare doorstep with their dreams and desires crushed because of their financial situation or their circumstances, abuse or whatever their reason is for not being able to hold down a job.... It becomes a matter of processing the individual rather than really looking at them as a human being. And it's the time constraints. The drive to do things faster and more efficiently. More people in less time.”
I ask Sandy if there's a certain pace that empathy requires.
“That's a good point. Yes, it does take time to get to know another individual.”
“And to give them a chance to sense that you care?”
“Exactly. And it certainly doesn't appear in a list of forty questions. 'How are you?' is not one of the forty or fifty questions we ask.”
“So this empathy can just sort of disappear?”
“Yeah. The pace has to be slowed down; that's true for any relationship.”
I wonder aloud whether this is how people can “disappear.”
“Sure. It has to be. People fall through the cracks.”
source: all of the above is from No Time Stress and the Crisis of Modern Life by Heather Menzies